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Autozone Liberty Bowl: Memphis vs. Iowa State Game Preview

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One last game for the Tigers gives them a shot at a Power 5 opponent

NCAA Football: American Athletic Conference Championship-Memphis at Central Florida Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, December 30th

Kickoff: 11:30am CT

Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (Memphis, TN)

TV: ABC

Stream: WatchESPN

Line: Memphis -4


Iowa State Outlook by Josh Cowan of landgrantgauntlet.com

On offense, Iowa State will come out and line up in spread formations, but they’re not overly flashy. They prefer to be methodical in running the ball and look to make big plays to their tall wideouts downfield.

Cyclone quarterback Kyle Kempt won’t impress you with his athleticism, but he’s a fifth year senior who is capable of making all the throws. Running back David Montgomery might be the best at his position in the Big 12, largely because of some impressive lower body strength that makes it hard to get him on the ground.

Receivers Allen Lazard and Hakeem Butler are tall and have good hands. Lazard will most likely hear his name called come NFL Draft time, but Butler is a rising star for the Cyclones.

The defense for Iowa State has probably been the biggest surprise this season. They are only giving up 21 points per game in a conference where teams are almost expected to score 30 or more. Campbell came to Ames as an offensive coach, so it’s also a testament to the work of his defensive coordinator Jon Heacock that they’ve had so much success.

In terms of scheme, the Cyclones really rely on being able to execute and tackle well in space. They like to rush three down lineman and keep everything in front of them. Opposing offenses are often tempted to run on them because they present a light front. They do a good job, however, of getting downhill and making plays to limit the run.

Their best linebacker is senior Joel Lanning, who actually played quarterback for Iowa State up until this year. He comes in to run the offense in short yardage situations and his willingness to play both ways really speaks to his commitment to this team.

Memphis Outlook

It’s your last chance to watch Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller tear up another secondary, so you won’t want to miss it. Memphis has one of the best offenses in the country because of these two, and we only get four more quarters with them. Sad, I know.

Iowa State presents this team with another opportunity to beat a Power 5 team. Early in the season, the Tigers knocked off #25 UCLA, who just played in the Cactus Bowl this week. Adding a win against a Big 12 team that was once atop the conference would be a nice addition to the resume.

So what are the keys to this game? First, players like Jonathan Cook and TJ Carter will need to step up. Cyclones receiver Allen Lazard is a dangerous threat, and will give them all they can handle. The defense needs to show they can keep the team in the game, and not rely on the offense to win it for them.

Montgomery is going to give the Tigers all they can handle in the running game too. Genard Avery and Co. will need to keep him in check, and win the battle in the trenches early. Forcing Kempt to throw will be huge for this group, and will limit the Tigers biggest weakness lately: play action.

Prediction

This is a pseudo home game for the Tigers. Playing in their own stadium will limit the stress of traveling and getting to know a new area/locker room/routine. This is a big game for the conference as well. Winning against another Power 5 team would help the Power 6 movement gain traction, and cap off a great season for Memphis. This one’s going to be fun, folks.

Memphis 34 Iowa State 31

Poll

Who wins Liberty Bowl?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Iowa State Cyclones
    (23 votes)
  • 66%
    Memphis Tigers
    (46 votes)
69 votes total Vote Now